Buildings in London and Saudi Arabia in 2019, Saudi Arabia Visa, Second UK Passport

Most Structurally Imposing Buildings in London and Saudi Arabia

KSA Architectural Design, UK Property- Building Construction Advice Article

8 Apr 2019

The Most Structurally Imposing Buildings in London and Saudi Arabia in 2019

Did you know, British nationals travelling to Saudi Arabia will soon be eligible for visas that allow multiple visits, for a duration of 5 years? This has been one among several changes in policy that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has initiated to boost its tourism industry.

The Most Structurally Imposing Buildings in London and Saudi Arabia in 2019

Previously, it was very difficult for foreign nationals, especially Europeans, to get a Saudi Arabian visa. But now the situation has undergone significant change, as Saudi Crown Prince Salman has removed restrictions on travel to the country. The reason for this is the government’s desire to remove its dependence on oil reserves, just like Dubai and Bahrain have successfully done in the past.

This change has invoked positive reactions from the UK as well. London being the most sought-after travel destination, attracts millions of tourists annually. Among these, the number of Saudi nationals traveling to London has also been quite significant.

The Saudi government, with its aim of increasing its tourist count to 30 million by 2030, has helped improve travel relations between the UK and Saudi Arabia. However, for now, it is best to keep a second UK passport handy because a Saudi Arabia Visa might come in the way of getting a visa on the same passport to many other nations.

Top Structurally Imposing Buildings in London

According to a paper published by the House of Commons Library, London was the most popular tourist destination in 2017. Among the 39.2 million visits made to the UK that year, about 50% included a visit to London. The reason has to be the rich architectural heritage of the city. Here’s a look at some such buildings:

1. Lloyd’s Building

Lloyd’s Building City of London facade
photo © Adrian Welch
Lloyd’s Building is considered a highly unique structure by tourists and scholars alike. It consists of six towers, among which, three are considered the main towers and the rest are designated as service towers. Its innovation lies in the fact that all the lifts, staircases, power conduits and duct channels are present on the outside. This was done to give its interiors an organised appearance. Also, this building was the first in the UK to make use of glass lifts.

2. The Shard

The Shard London tower pinnacle
photo © Nick Weall
Also known as the Shard of Glass, this is the tallest skyscraper in London (306 metres), with 95 storeys. It has a distinct needle-like shape and its outer surface is covered in 11,000 glass panels. Some of the floors have decks from which tourists can soak in the entire view of the city’s skyline. From Floor 68, you can gain access to Cloudscape, an exhibit that will teach you about the clouds you can see from the deck.

3. One Canada Square

One Canada Square
photo ©
The One Canada Square in Canary Wharf is the second tallest building in London, at a height of 236 metres. Its 50 floors provide accommodation to nearly 40 businesses, including the likes of JP Morgan, High Speed 2, CITI, HSBC and more. Although the entire building is not open for tourists you can still enter it through the ground floor and enjoy a meal at the One Canada Square restaurant.

4. The College of Arms

This is a royal corporation, consisting of officers of arms and holds jurisdiction over Northern Ireland, England, Wales, and some Commonwealth countries. Its members, the heralds, are appointed by the British Sovereign. They have the authority to take action in all matters related to heraldry. These include granting and providing coats of arms, taking record of pedigrees and researching on the basis of family history.

5. 110 Bishopsgate

Heron Tower Skyscraper, 110 Bishopsgate London Building
photo © Adrian Welch
In terms of height, 110 Bishopsgate (earlier known as Heron Tower) comes after The Shard and One Canada Square at 230 metres. Its other claim to fame is the title of being the tallest building in the financial district. The building’s lobby is the most amazing feature, as it has a massive 70,000-litre aquarium, which is home to about 1,200 fish.

6. The Library and Museum of Freemasonry

Freemasons Hall in London is home to the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, a charitable archive, museum, and library. It is open for tourists five days a week and that too free of charge. The museum contains artefacts and books related to various European societies. Tools belonging to famous freemasons, such as Sir Winston Churchill and King Edward VII, are also kept on display.

7. Newfoundland Quay

This 220-metre tall skyscraper is currently under construction and is expected to be completed in 2019. Newfoundland Quay is a residential skyscraper with retail amenities. It is located in close proximity to the Canary Wharf and Docklands Light tube stations and will allow ease of access to the city and the West End. The building has an aesthetically pleasing, transparent, diagrid structure.

8. St Pancras Station

St Pancras Station Building, London Hotel
photo © Adrian Welch
The St Pancras Station is an international railway station, situated on Euston Road, in Camden. It is famous because it serves as a connection between the UK and other countries of Europe. Owing to its 34.62 million annual entries and exits it is the 9th busiest railway station in Great Britain.

9. The Scalpel

The Scalpel Tower Lime Street
image courtesy of architects
The name “Scalpel” was given to this building by The Financial Times, due to its unique angular design. This introduced the trend of naming buildings on the basis of their architecture. It is situated on the corner of Leadenhall Street and Lime Street, adjacent to the Willis building. The Scalpel was built as the European headquarters for WR Berkley, an insurance company.

10. 30 St Mary Axe

Gherkin London 30 St Mary Axe Swiss Re Building
photo © Nick Weall
Nicknamed “The Gherkin,” 30 St Mary Axe is a very famous landmark in London. It is an egg-shaped building and is considered to be an excellent example of contemporary architecture. This building can be spotted from great distances in every direction. The building follows the diagrid framework of construction, using intersecting beams.

Top Structurally Imposing Buildings in Saudi Arabia

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has made changes to its policies to encourage tourism. The kingdom now allows quick and easy tourist visas, while also allowing foreign women to travel alone in the country.

Although the visa rules have seen some relaxation, you might still be unable to get a Saudi Arabia visa if you already have an Israeli visa stamp on your passport. This is why it is recommended to get a Second UK passport to avoid any such hassles.

And, if you are visiting the kingdom, here are some much see structures.

1. Jeddah Tower

Previously known as the Mile-High Tower and Kingdom Tower, the Jeddah Tower is still under construction and is expected to open in 2021, with a height of 1 km. Initially, the building was meant to be a mile high, but the geology of the land was unsuitable for such a great height. This tower is being designed by Adrian Smith, the architect who designed the Burj Khalifa.

2. Kingdom Center

The Kingdom Center is a 41-storey, 302-metre-tall skyscraper in Riyadh. It holds the title of being the fifth largest building in Saudi Arabia and the world’s third largest building. There is an inverted parabola-shaped arch in the upper part of the building, which gives it a distinct look. The ends of this arch are connected by a sky bridge, which is 65 metres long and provides excellent views of the entire city.

3. Capital Market Authority Tower

The CMA Tower soars up to a height of 385 metres above the surrounding area and is the main part of the King Abdullah Financial District. It is an 80-storey tower with a crystalline, transparent structure and provides office space to several companies. Currently, it is the tallest building in Riyadh.

4. Burj Rafal

The Burj Rafal is one of the tallest hotels in the world and is the tallest residential building in Riyadh. It is laid out across an area of 20,000 square feet and has 70 floors. It consists of residential apartments, spas, and hotels that have fully automatic systems, inspired by the luxurious Kempinski Hotel in Europe.

5. Makkah Clock Royal Tower

Located near the Kaaba is the Makkah Clock Royal Tower, a luxury Fairmont Hotel. It is an integral part of the Abraj Al Bait Complex and is the closest hotel to the holy pilgrimage sites of Islam. Its 1,650 rooms provide visitors great comfort and there is also the facility to choose rooms that give a full view of the Mecca and the Masjid Al Haram.

6. KAFD World Trade Center

This is a 303-metre-tall skyscraper in Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District. It is designed in the form of a vertical valley. It can be seen from a distance of several miles and is made of composite panels that give it a striking appearance. The exterior of the building was designed keeping in the form of a rock with a massive crack. The concept of this crack or valley can be seen all through the structure.

7. Abraj Al Bait Hajar Towers

These two towers are situated very close to the Great Mosque of Mecca. They were built with a total budget of US$15 billion, which makes them the most expensive building in the world. The towers form a part of the King Abdulaziz Endowment Project, which aims to provide services to pilgrims while modernising the city at the same time.

8. Al Faisaliyah Center

Also known as the Star Dome, the Al Faisaliyah Centre is a commercial skyscraper situated in the business district of Riyadh. At the top of the building, there is a restaurant, called “The Globe,” which is a renowned Saudi Arabian restaurant. It is a unique attraction, as it provides 360-degree views of the city to tourists.

9. Al Rajhi Tower

This tower is a US$500 million project that has been proposed in Riyadh. The design of the tower has been selected to replicate a sailboat. Al Rajhi Tower is named after the richest non-royal family of Saudi Arabia and is being constructed on their behalf. The Al Rajhi is among the greatest philanthropists in the world.

10. Burj Al Anoud

The Anoud Tower is a 155-metre-high skyscraper built in 2005. It is an important commercial building on King Fahd Road. The Burj Al Anoud has 20 floors, along with 3 basement levels. It is owned by the Princess Al-Anoud Foundation, in association with other Saudi companies, such as Novotel Hotels and Inma Bank.

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